High hopes for an end to city’s bins dispute Council leader thinks settlement can be found to avoid costly court case
BIRMINGHAM’S longrunning bins dispute could be nearing a resolution ahead of a crunch court date at the end of this month.
Labour City Council leader Ian Ward revealed he has high hopes that a deal can be struck with the union Unite before the parties meet in the High Court on November 27.
Binmen have been in dispute with the city council since the start of the summer – including three months of strike action which saw mountains of rubbish piled high on the streets.
The key area of the dispute is the downgrading of jobs, called leading hands, which mean 113 staff face redundancy, re-assignment to another department or a pay cut of up to £5,000 a year.
Former council leader John Clancy was forced to resign over his role in an aborted deal with the union.
The strike was only suspended in September when Unite won the right to challenge the council in court.
An appearance in the High Court could be embarrassing and costly for both the union as are aired.
Speaking to a backbench council scrutiny committee Councillor Ward said: “The bins dispute was not the greatest moment in the history of this city.
“It is the one and only service delivered to all 400,000 households in Birmingham and it’s very important for that reason.
“It is also important because when you look at any residents surveys the most important issue for residents is clean streets and the refuse collection service. We are now in very meaningful talks with the Unite union and they will be going forward.
“I am very much hoping that we will avoid having to go back to court at the end of this month through reaching a settlement with the trade unions.”
He also suggested his predecessor had paid the price for failing to listen to the advice of professional council officers in striking his deal with the union.
“That’s what went wrong back in the summer, and that’s something I’m keen to avoid,” he said.
He stressed that politicians can choose not to follow officer advice as long as they listen and consider it carefully. council and the bitter grievances
> The bin strike rally in Birmingham in September